Anne Arundel County

Annapolis City Hall adds new security measures

Stricter security measures have been implemented at Annapolis City Hall following a review of procedures after a theft earlier this year from the city's Finance Department, city officials said Tuesday.

The first phase of stepped-up security, which will include requiring City Hall visitors to sign in during business hours, began last week. A security guard has been posted at the front entrance of City Hall and all other access to the building has been closed. Employees are also now required to wear city-issued identification badges.

The new rules come four months after a bank deposit bag with nearly $154,000 in cash and checks was removed from the Finance Department's vault between 2:30 p.m. June 7 and the morning of June 8. No arrests have been made. Annapolis Police Chief Michael A. Pristoop did not return a call seeking comment.

"The mayor understands these are unprecedented measures," said Phillip McGowan, a spokesman for Mayor Joshua J. Cohen. "Certainly Annapolis is a small town and people expect to have immediate access to the departments and the services and their elected officials. So the balancing act has been to provide that same access but to ensure that we have the security measures in place to ensure the safety of the people that work at City Hall."

McGowan said the security guard will cost the city less than $20,000 annually, and a second phase of added security that will come in the next few months will be paid for using $100,000 in Homeland Security grant money.

Pristoop had asked for a review of security at City Hall in the spring, months before the theft of cash and checks from the Finance Department. A private company, Gee Cosper & Associates, and the state Department of General Services both conducted reviews.

Anne Arundel County Auditor Teresa Sutherland also conducted a review, concentrating on controls within the city departments that handle money.

The second phase of increased security measures that will be implemented in the coming months includes the addition of security cameras and a restricted-access safe installed in the Harbormaster's offices and in the Finance, Transportation and Recreation departments.

"We must rebuild the public trust in city government, and I believe these new security measures will help restore that confidence," Cohen said in a statement.